If you have either been to Napa and/or know those who have, the concensus is clear. It appeals on so many different levels to so many people.
Nonetheless, every travel experience contains at least one head-scratcher. Our flight from Burbank to Oakland was flawless, arriving early with a half-full plane. However, the rental car pick up was anything but “flawless.” Remember the famous Seinfeld episode where Jerry has a car reservation, but there’s no car available? Bingo. “Anyone can T A K E a reservation,” a frustrated Jerry says to the woman behind the counter. “But you have to H O L D the reservation.” How exactly does a car rental company have no cars for their bookings? Fortunately, steps away from Fox was Avis who solved the problem and off we went.
Silverado Country Club offers spacious units with three bedrooms and two baths so that was our choice. Our family of four could spread out, bring in food for breakfast with the full kitchen and be very comfortable. COVID meant none of the typical services, but the front desk responded promptly to all our requests.
Over the course of the week, our adventures would satisfy the most dedicated oenophiles. Son Sam created and with the hubby operates a family enterprise, The Cellar Beverly Hills. Now in our third year, we offer private wine storage with concierge services and much more. Given the business has been built almost entirely by word of mouth, imagine our collective glee hearing from a prominent winery that TCBH is quite well known among Wine Country vinters. We were ecstatic.
Make no mistake — this was a working trip. Thanksgiving provided a much-needed respite, but the rest of the days were spent making and enhancing winery relationships (21 in all). If you want to help this area from a devastating year — not just from COVID closures but the fires — buy wine!
Along with wine, the other joy of Napa is eating lots of great food. Because there are so many choices, strategy was needed to try everywhere we wanted to go. A couple of restaurants were nixed because of closing for the transition to complete outdoor dining (Avow and The Charter Oak). A mix of new and old made up the rest: Mustard’s Grill, Oenotri, Bistro Don Giovani, Celadon, Gott’s Roadside (a must), Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch and our favorite, Poesia in San Francisco.
You should know a word about outdoor dining this time of year. It’s cold. Very, very cold. When the sun goes down, Napa drops at least 20 degrees. Every night was mid-40’s. One night required keeping my gloves on between the courses. The establishments do their best with heaters but those unfortunately don’t reach one’s feet. Brrrr.
Poesia was a last-minute find for Thanksgiving dinner. The food (shown below) was fantastic but even more fun was Pietro, the crazy, animated, fun and enthusiastic caretaker of our table. This Italian/Jewish/filmmaker might just show up on our doorstep one day. Prego!
Above (clockwise from upper left): Eggplant parm, Cabbage salad with pears, walnuts & goat cheese; incredible rigatoni marinara; ravioli with pumpkin filling, sage and balsamic.
Below, the quartet of desserts: Hazelnut gelato with hard chocolate shell; (take the gun but leave the) cannoli; millefoglie with apple; tiramisu. All magnifico!
A few precious and careful visits with friends and family were icing on the proverbial cake to this spectacular week. As a result, layers of ongoing and much welcomed (small) gatherings were added with cousin visits in Silverado, San Francisco and Lafayette. We got in a quick coffee in Sebastopol with a high school friend, along with tastings at Jeff Cohn Cellars and Littorai in Sonoma.
Napa continues to be one of the best — if not the best — vacation destinations there is, so go!